Volume 22, Number 3

Directions for Reading the National Enquirer

Scan the words darkly.
There are hidden messages here.
No one truly believes
the celebrity couple are really fighting,
on the verge of a break-up.
Nothing binds one more surely
than the words in this magazine,
if only in retrograde.

Read about the supermodel
who weed-whacked the intrusive
paparazzi, stripping his clothes off,
taking photos of his own pale nudity.
There's nothing there … never was,
you understand. Look at the ads!

All the men have clean chests.
They've never emptied a six-pack
on a lonely country road. These aren't
men, but crash-test dummies dolled
up in fake pecs and buns of plastic.
Look at the ads! The women are so
ready, candidates for liposuction,
afternoon martinis, and hours spent
hoisting their cantileverage
before fading mirror-masks.

Look at carefully selected cover photos:
glitter people at their best.
Doesn't this convince you that
the end of the world is at hand?
A cockroach scuttles across the page.
It will survive. It will survive.

—James P. Roberts